Just listed: contemporary view home on South Hill

Get ready, Bellingham. This might just be the coolest house to hit the South Hill market in awhile... 

Nestled in the trees, this Frank Lloyd Wright-inspired home emanates effortless, natural style.

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The owners of this gem took its intrinsically cool vibe to the next level by upgrading the floors on both levels to bamboo hardwoods, replacing appliances with stainless steel, installing new honed black quartz waterfall countertops in kitchen, and getting some major land/hardscaping projects out of the way including the installation of a covered fenced dog area under the deck.

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Everything you need is on the need on main level here, and the lower level has a convenient separate entrance. And, low-maintenance landscaping! Move in, watch the sunsets, and enjoy your life. It doesn't get much better than this on South Hill.

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To get a better feel for this undeniably stylish space, check out the video that we created below.

Just listed: One-level modern farmhouse on acreage

I am so excited about this new listing, an impeccably designed high-quality modern farmhouse-style rambler on 9.5 acres just east of Bow-Edison, in Skagit County. 

At just over 2300 sq ft, this home offers open concept living and so many stylish details: wide plank hardwoods, sliding barn door, stainless steel farmhouse sink, shiplap, quartz countertops and oil rubbed bronze finishes. It features 3 bedrooms (plus a flex room and office) and 3 full baths. It's just simply, gorgeous.

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This is a new construction but it's not a typical spec home. Built by Balas Homes, a family-owned 4th generation builder offering superior quality and style, this home has every thoughtful detail you'd want: great lighting options (with dimmer switches!), tongue and groove cedar covered patio, plush carpets in the bedrooms, undermount sinks, tile bathroom floors, seamless glass shower doors in the master bath.  No expense was spared. 

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And the setting is so tranquil. It's situated on a cul-de-sa in a new acreage development. It's a flat and lightly treed property, absent of water or wetland concerns, offering a ton of possibility and room to customize for one's specific needs. 

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Check out the video that we created below. To learn more, please visit the custom website that we launched at https://www.4671glacierln.com/

 

 

 

Homes make us feel...

I guarantee you that this is the most emotional post you’ll ever see a realtor write. But it’s Valentine's Day so I feel a little entitled to emote. 

Can we not talk about for just a second about the FEELING that you can experience when you’re in the right home?

 Diligently house hunting in 2007, as a brunette. Oh, how I immediately fell in love with this home. 

Diligently house hunting in 2007, as a brunette. Oh, how I immediately fell in love with this home. 

Our first home in Ballard had that feeling. The energy when I walked in that door, it was palpable. It emanated goodness with those big windows letting in the perfect light. It had a wholesome yet elegant cheeriness about it. It’s been over four years since I lived in that special home but I almost get chills when I think about it today. I miss it dearly. 

 My first love. 

My first love. 

Or, the time capsule mid-century home that you all fell in love with last summer. The feelings were real, they swept me up right away. And I wasn't the only one. Those feminine details. The way the light just sparkled in that living room.

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The way people connected to it, and then shared it on social media.

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And then to find out that it was special to many children and grandchildren, now grown and living in other cities, who sought me out to view the home again when it listed. After I met and grew to love the many people that spent time there, it was even easier to understand why it carried that energy. 

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Can we talk about the feeling when you are in a house like the 1930’s bungalow listed last fall, that a large Bellingham family owned and raised 15 children in? 

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My heart sung when I looked through the original windows in that humble kitchen. And just beyond those glass panes encased between actual wood was a colorful garden that the matriarch of the family lovingly planted—and happily passed time admiring— from her breakfast table. With the lush grass and hummingbirds... it just gave you all the maternal nesting feels. That feeling was real. 

Yes, this is the most woo woo post you’ll ever read on a real estate blog but I’m here to remind you on this love day that homes are more than investments.

Yes, I’ll help you look at the comps before we offer and work to help you make the smartest decision. Yes, we can look at the neighborhood appreciation rates, and school ratings. Of course we’ll run the numbers. But please don’t ignore the feelings in the process. We are rational AND emotional creatures. We bond with our spaces. We raise our families under these roofs, we spend time with friends, we find peace and rest and solace there. It's an emotional process to find, and let go of, our homes. Let's honor these feelings. 


 

Bellingham's own architecture legend, George Bartholick

You may have heard me say that my work in real estate has been peppered with rather coincidental, if not inspired, experiences. (If not, I’d be happy to talk your ear off about all the strange and incredible situations that I’ve had in the last year.) So, here’s another one.

While antique shopping at one of my favorite PNW stores, Urban Marketplace, in the Manette neighborhood of Bremerton, I started chatting with one of the sales associates. I mentioned that I lived in Bellingham, and she said that she went to college there. She happened to mention the name of her college roommate…because, that’s normally what you bring up in a 30-second conversation with a stranger, right?

“I still keep in touch with my college roommate, Andrea Bartholick Pace, who’s now interior designer in the Bay area,” she said.

Bartholick. The name stuck. I said, “This is a long shot but…did her dad happen to be an architect?”

“Yes, he was!” she replied.

My eyes widened. I just put one of the late George Bartholick’s homes under contract: a beautiful 1960s home in the Edgemoor neighborhood of Bellingham. My clients and I had been researching him and his work. What are the odds?

Days later I had the opportunity to speak with his daughter Andrea about his life and his work, and I’m excited to be able to share a bit about it here.

A true creative

Born in 1921, George Bartholick grew up in Bellingham, where his family owned a shoe repair shop. He came from a creative family, as evidenced by this custom car his father had created by Ford for his personal use. 

 George Bartholick, age 4, (to the right of the steering wheel) in a Bellingham parade.

George Bartholick, age 4, (to the right of the steering wheel) in a Bellingham parade.

He was an adventurous spirit and he lived all over the world.

He was best friends with prominent PNW architects Fred Bassetti and Ibsen Nelson. "They ruled the Seattle art scene in the 70s and 80s," Andrea said. "They were all tall, dressed beautifully, and supported the arts and changes in Seattle's development."

He was crazy, wild and mischievous. She told me a hilarious story about how he designed a contemporary house called the “House of the Future” for the Seattle World’s Fair in 1962, and then got arrested for sleeping in it before opening day.

After traveling Europe, and living in Finland and France, Bartholick came home in 1956 to Bellingham.

“He loved Bellingham, especially Lake Whatcom."

Andrea grew up with her two siblings in a one-bedroom log cabin with an outhouse at the end of Northshore Dr, until she was 11 years old when the family moved into the home that he was slowly building on the property.

"The lake reminded him of the fiords of Norway,” she said.

Bartholick designed much of Western Washington University’s campus. He also restored the old city hall (for the former town, New Whatcom) after a fire, which today houses the Whatcom Museum. His work laid the groundwork for what is now the Woodland Park Zoo. But he was most known for his work restoring Pike Place Market, which earned him an American Institute of Architects award in 1985.

Bartholick only designed a handful of residential projects in his lifetime, but the homes that he did design were special for all of those who got to live in them.

“He was always very close with his clients, and they typically kept the homes for the rest of their lives.”
 

 A portrait of George Bartholick during the 1990s when he was living and teaching architecture in Guanajuato, Mexico. Photo courtesy of Andrea Bartholick Pace.

A portrait of George Bartholick during the 1990s when he was living and teaching architecture in Guanajuato, Mexico. Photo courtesy of Andrea Bartholick Pace.

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My lucky clients are design enthusiasts, and they immediately fell in love with this home, which features floor to ceiling windows and the unique floor plan that playfully winds around a courtyard and pool, with walls of sliding doors creating natural indoor-outdoor living spaces.

“He hated cutting down trees to make room for a home, so would design around them," Andrea noted.

Bartholick’s influences were Japanese architecture, nature, and natural light.

When we walked into this home, it immediately felt cultured and inspired, much like its creator.

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Bartholick died in 1998 at the age of 77.

In his Seattle Times obituary, a fellow architect Jim Leong, said "He was one of the characters of Seattle, a living legend. He could be a cantankerous reprobate on one hand, and a gentle, guiding soul on the other. He definitely designed some marvelous buildings."

And we are fortunate to have a bit of his legacy here in Bellingham.

 

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How storytelling can help sell homes

When selling a home, you're often instructed to neutralize and depersonalize everything about the home. Take down family photos to create a space that people can envision themselves living in. Don't share too many personal reasons about why you're selling or where you're going. Stay at an arm's length during the process, and let the agents talk to each other. There are many reasons why this advice is sound, but what I feel is often lost in the real estate process is the stories behind the homes. Especially when representing an older home, I love to draw out the history and make it work for you

In my recent Whatcom Falls listing, for example, I knew that we weren't going to capture inspiring photos of the inside of the home. I'm a big believer in staging but this home just needed too much updating, and putting new furniture in it would have just highlighted its shortcomings. Over 90 percent of buyers start their home search online though, and I have a digital marketing focused approach. I knew the photos weren't going to sell this place. So I asked myself, how could we get traction?

During initial meetings with the siblings who were selling the home for their (very large!) family, the stories of their childhood kept flowing. With 15 kids growing up a 1500 sq foot home, how could they not? Lynn and Bill had me enthralled...I wanted to know more. So, I decided to "break the rules" and share heartwarming stories of the family who have owned it for over 70 years. I knew that telling this home's history would make people fall in love with it—and share it online.

Interviewing Lynn and Bill was fun. They had so many hilarious memories about growing up! The hardest part was pairing their stories down into a piece that was easily consumable, as people have increasingly short attention spans when it comes to digital media.  

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I managed to get my hands on some old photos of the kids growing up, which made it so much more real. We paired the stories with gorgeous drone video of the almost 1-acre property. At the end of the video, I was able to sneak in some information about the development opportunities—knowing that leading with that info wouldn't be something that would catch most people's attention.

Once finished, we distributed the video via YouTube, Twitter and Facebook. And I'm quite delighted with the results. The video received over 5,700 views on Facebook! The property ended up selling for $70,000 over asking price. 

Sold in Whatcom Falls

One of the things you'll get with me as your listing agent is a fresh approach to marketing the property. With a 15-year background in marketing, communications and social media, I can't help but take real estate a step or two beyond what's typical. And, I love storytelling. Take a peek for yourself and let me know what you think!

Just listed: Adorable bungalow on huge, dividable Bellingham lot

I'm excited to share my newest listing, a super rare find in Bellingham.

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1208 Xenia St. is a charming 1930’s bungalow situated on almost an acre on a dead-end street in the Whatcom Falls neighborhood! This home features a large living room with tons of original character including solid plank pine walls, built-ins, coved ceilings. Plus, a gorgeous gas fireplace.

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In the mid-90's an additional living room was added to the home in back—also featuring a fireplace. 

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The property boasts lush gardens and a variety of fruit trees. The home has been well-maintained with new exterior paint, and a brand new high efficiency water heater.

Opportunity exists to divide into 3-4 separate lots (buyer to verify) all with street frontage and utilities in street.

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Offered at $550,000, this one will go fast. Large, flat, serviced and buildable lots are virtually non-existent in Bellingham, so this is a great opportunity.  I've shared some of the heartwarming history of this home, as well as outlined some of the development options, in the video below. 

For more info, please contact me at 206-619-2286 or kristakenner@cbbain.com. 

 

Best neighborhoods for kids and families in Bellingham

If you’re moving to Bellingham, you are likely wondering where you might want to live. Other questions include:

  • Where can I get an affordable home in Bellingham?
  • Should I rent or buy when I move?
  • Is there crime in Bellingham?
  • What are the best schools in Bellingham?

Trust me, I’ve been there! The questions are heavy. Moving is hard! Four years ago we packed up and moved our young family to Bellingham from Seattle. It tends to be a bit overwhelming to move to a new community, especially with children, so I’ve compiled some advice – largely informed by my own move.

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When we moved to Bellingham, we decided to rent first. Buying and selling homes is a big commitment, so we wanted to “test the waters” with our move first. We wanted to make sure we liked our jobs, and that the move overall seemed right for our family. So we rented our Seattle home for six months and signed a lease for a cute home in the Silver Beach neighborhood, near Lake Whatcom.

The Silver Beach neighborhood was great. Pros: it’s gorgeous and has easy access to Lake Whatcom. (We had a little community beach a walkable distance away that we could go to, but Bloedel Donavan Park was also convenient.) There’s a great, flat trail nearby that’s wonderful for an easy hike or a jog. It only takes 12-15 minutes to get to downtown Bellingham. One of Bellingham’s best restaurants, The Fork at Agate Bay, is nearby. The Silver Beach area is quiet, peaceful, and the community was welcoming and sweet. We could walk to see cows! (No, it's not rural, but we lived near a rare couple-acre parcel where the landowners kept a couple grazing cows.) 

 Our oldest daughter on a walk to see the cows in the Silver Beach neighborhood near Lake Whatcom.

Our oldest daughter on a walk to see the cows in the Silver Beach neighborhood near Lake Whatcom.

Silver Beach cons: not many. For us, we missed being super close to a variety of grocery stores, restaurants, coffee shops. We realized through living out near Lake Whatcom that we really are city people, and we could get a little bit more of an urban vibe by being closer to downtown.

A little less than a year later, we moved to the South Hill neighborhood of Bellingham. We were lucky to be able to buy a fixer upper with a fantastic view of Bellingham Bay. The view alone was probably enough to woo us, but we were excited about other perks. My husband could get to his work downtown in just a few minutes. There were many great parks for kids nearby (Bellingham’s park game is strong!). The south end schools were known to be fantastic from elementary school all the way up to high school.

 Our youngest daughter at Squalicum Park in Bellingham.

Our youngest daughter at Squalicum Park in Bellingham.

I wasn’t sure how many families my age would be nearby in South Hill. Many of the homes are sizeable, and have views. It's desirable, and the prices in the neighborhood reflect that. In the last 12 months, the average annual median sold price in South Hill is over $575,000—not exactly entry level for most young families. 

The Columbia neighborhood tempted us because it’s known to be magical for children. Halloween is an epic event in Columbia. The elementary school has a great reputation, and we had good friends that lived there. At times, I second guessed our decision to go south during this super kid-centric phase of our lives, but now I’ve realized that it’s so easy to join the fun family-friendly events in any neighborhood in Bellingham. And once our oldest went to kindergarten, we met a whole bunch of families with young children that reside in the south end.

In fact, there are many great schools and many idyllic places to live with children in Bellingham. Since settling in here, we’ve had our kids enrolled in a few different preschools in a few different areas, so we’ve managed to meet families that live all over town in a variety of neighborhoods.

Like any community, there are pros and cons to each neighborhood and you have to figure out what’s most important to you.

If you can sacrifice on size, and love the charm of older homes, York or Sunnyland neighborhood might be a nice fit for you.

If having a large, flat chunk of land for a garden or swing set is important, the Birchwood neighborhood, known for its large lot sizes, might be a good place to start your search.

Love the lake? Try Geneva, or aforementioned Silver Beach, or head south to the Lake Samish area.

Want an International Baccalaureate program that offers instruction in a second language during your children's primary years? Wade King Elementary has it, so you'll want to focus on sections of Whatcom Falls neighborhood, and/or the Urban Growth Area near Yew Street and Lake Padden.

Want to run out your door to tons of trails? Whatcom Falls and Samish/Lake Padden areas also offer that.

I know—there are a ton of considerations. But I can tell you that you can’t really go wrong here. And that's not just realtor-speak, I promise. Bellingham is an awesome place to raise kids.

Finding a good real estate agent—someone in the same stage of life—is a good first step. Since moving to Bellingham, it has become my passion to help other people—families especially—integrate into this remarkable community that I now call home. Give me a call or send me an email so we can chat more!

Follow me on Instagram @hearthomesbellingham

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Working for the sale: behind the scenes of 400 17th St.

It was such an honor to be a part of the sale of 400 17th St., a gorgeous 60's home filled to the brim with love, fabulous things, and good times.

When I started working with the Fishers, who were selling their mother's home, we had our work cut out for us. This quality-built home was innately beautiful, and very well maintained—with classic lines that make any mid-century lover swoon—but, it had just undergone a highly trafficked estate sale, and it needed a vision, and what I like to call a good "spit shine."

When I took this project on, I knew we had an opportunity—to maximize a sale for a family.

Goal: to create a vision—to help people see how this vintage time capsule home is insanely cool, near move-in-ready, just waiting for modern day entertaining and general lifestyle amazingness. 

I was on-scene almost every day for over a month, helping this busy family manage the preparation. Here's a behind the scenes look at what we did.

First off, the pool needed some help, as it hadn't had a cover on it for about a year. And the fence was looking tired. Since the pool area was visible from nearly every room in the house, this was an immediate focus of our efforts. 

Pool cleaners arrived on-scene multiple times. The fence and pool area were pressure washed. We repaired a few areas of the fence, and replaced top caps. Then, I had a crew of college kids come and give it a fresh, clean coat of paint. 

Meanwhile, inside the home, we focused on repainting a few key rooms that looked dingy: the master bedroom, a main floor bath, and the kitchen ceiling. 

I also had an electrician replace a light fixture/fan combo that didn't honor the era of the home as well as some of the iconic globe fixtures, of which we had extra in the basement. As someone who has produced and managed photoshoots for national brands, I'm trained to always ask myself, "What will photograph the best?"

Landscaping was also key. We did some trimming and pruning, but the area that I knew would make the most visual impact was the front of the home, where these huge and amazing built-in stone beds sat empty. We needed to get this area to "pop," as it's right by the front door. First impressions are everything.

 Do I need my own HGTV show or what?

Do I need my own HGTV show or what?

On the landscaping front, the look I was going for was very Southern California. This gorgeous mid-century had a very Joseph Eichler vibe, so we needed to honor that. Palm Springs was on my mind.

Another big first impression opportunity was the front entry light fixture, which was pure Hollywood Regency goodness, but very rusted. Nothing that little paint can't fix, so I spruced it up.

The interior was where my heart sung. This original Nutone pull out record player was in the basement, so we reinstalled it. An old acquaintance of mine—with the patience of a saint—spent over a full day, delicately cleaning and checking every wire and connection to get the intercomm and speaker system singing throughout the entire 4400+ square foot home. Why would we do this? This place was frozen in time, therefore, we were selling more than a house—we were selling a lifestyle.

Then we were about ready to clean and stage. Luckily, my client had a cleaning company in her past. She very successfully took over this area. I've never seen someone clean this well in my entire life. I think she spent over 3 hours on the 1960's stove. By the end, it looked like it had never even baked a bundt cake before, which we all know isn't the case.

I decided to stage this home myself. I'm a huge believer in staging—the photos are much more captivating than a vacant home. It also helps shoppers visualize the space and how they might use it.

I selectively kept a few items that didn't sell at the estate sale, like this AMAZING art deco mirror above. It just needed a new base, as it was sitting on top of a rather silly computer desk. I paired it with a super chic Nate Berkus for Target chair. I love this chair. (When you can get a chair this perfect for this scene, at a Target price, you know you're winning.)

Most of the furniture that we used came from my own arsenal of vintage and mid-century pieces. I painted some pieces from Goodwill to fill in a few holes. It was important that we had a fresh, modern look that still honored the era.

 To be fair, that person painting that chair is actually my mom. She is a PRO at refurbishing furniture!

To be fair, that person painting that chair is actually my mom. She is a PRO at refurbishing furniture!

After cleaning and staging, it was show-time. I spent nine hours with an architectural photographer. Nine hours, you ask? Well, I stood behind every frame, moving pillows and plants around to capture just the right composition. We did drone video, interior video, and multiple rooms with different lighting options. And in the end, I really feel like we captured the essence of this home. 

It was a ton of work but definitely worth it. When she sold for $1,000,000, I knew we represented her well. 

I will always have a special place in my heart for this remarkable home.

 

Sold in Sudden Valley!

Congratulations to Kara and Jonny who landed a great home in Sudden Valley in late May! Kara and Jonny moved from Portland to Bellingham, and found that they loved Sudden Valley. I was so happy to represent them on their first purchase in the Bellingham area! 

This sunny property had a great feel immediately when we walked in the door. The master bathroom was pretty epic. And it had enough space for them to both have separate offices—a must have when you both work from home. 

Congrats guys!

Now offering: professional organizing, paid by yours truly

I find that one of the most stressful aspects of a busy life is the lack of time, energy and mental headspace to organize. It's something that I've written about before. And I'm sure you'll hear from me again on the subject.

Earlier this spring, I had a professional organizer and friend, Rachel from Spruce with Rachel, help me with our giant closet in the middle of our home.

I love this closet. It's huge. It has many shelves. And over the three and a half years since we've lived in our home, it has become the catch-all for everything that I don't know what to do with. Before Rachel came to help me, it was a war zone of stuff—everything from kids' games to large cooking equipment to gift wrap to extra home supplies. It was stuffed to the brim. If you opened this closet, you never know what might fall out. 

Rachel began her process by taking every single thing out of the closet and letting it sprawl across our floor and kitchen table. Seeing it all out in front of me was amazing. I really had all this stuff?

I went through each and every item and decided whether or not I needed it. (In case you're wondering, I did keep the hand mixer below. It was a gift from my husband's grandmother. And it's actually kind of useful. So it went to live in our kitchen.)

Going through each item one by one with Rachel's presence by my side, I was able to get rid of a lot. (Favorite part: she takes it away for you! And sends you a tax donation receipt in the mail!) 

Our refreshed closet is so much more functional. I know where everything is, and it's easily accessible. My gift wrap is all in a nice little gift wrap storage box! I realized I need to do this with every room in my house. 

now offering: professional organization services for clients

One of the more stressful parts about moving, whether you're buying or selling, is getting your home organized and in shape. If you're a buyer, you are typically moving from somewhere with different spaces and organizational features. Hopefully your new home has bigger and better closets—but maybe you traded those features for something else. The point is, you need to think through your new space and how you want to live in it. If you buy your new home with me at your agent, I will pay for a half-day consult with Rachel, a value of $350.00, after you move some boxes in. Give her a room or a closet and it will look like a Storables ad in no time!

If you're looking to sell your home soon, oh boy—you're likely in the thick of it. The idea of getting your house ready to list might be so overwhelming that you don't even know where to start. (And yes, potential buyers do look through your closets.) If you list your home with me, I will pay for a half-day consult with Rachel, a value of $350.00. And don't get me wrong— a Rachel "consult" is very hands-on. She'll get down-to-business, help you sort and purge. She'll get right to it and you'll be on your way in no time.

I found that a half-day with Rachel gave me the energy, confidence and skills to tackle other areas of my home with much more ease. Hopefully it will do the same for you. 

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